Feb 28, 2010

Farewell to February 2010

February 2010 has come and gone just like the other months and years before that..
To summarize in a nutshell the best of this month was that I could re-connect with many of my old friends after so many years - thanks to Facebook and the Internet and the World-call vonage plan.
The disappointments are a few but to share with you, I haven't found a job yet and haven't lost a single pound and it is not a leap year!
Movies worth mentioning - thanks to my friend for Netflix - The Butterfly (Le Papillon), The Syrian Bride, The Color of Paradise, Treeless Mountain...
Have been reading - Judges, Genesis, Mathew & Psalms
Simple Pleasures: Kids making the baskets in their respective basket ball games this season, saving a dying plant at the last minute, adding new fish to the aquarium, visiting friends & booking the tickets for India...
It has been a good month overall and I have been blessed.
Farewell February 2010! Looking forward to a whole new March 2010 starting tomorrow...

Feb 26, 2010

It refreshes my soul!

Snow! It refreshes my soul.

"Though our sins are as scarlet (red),They will be as white as snow" - that's the verse from the Bible I am reminded of whenever I see snow. I feel so fresh and clean all over again...

For the last two days I am sitting by the window and watching the snow flakes fall by all around filling the roof-tops, the roads, the mail boxes, the shrubs, the trees, the fence and everything else you can see...  It is all white now and looks so beautiful that I imagine heaven to be as beautiful as snow! Is there anything whiter than snow you have come across?! Not me!

Snow is the whitest - the purest of all existing things I have seen under the sun... It brings such joy and reminds me of the generosity of God's love. It is done so effortlessly, so evenly and so beautifully... Snow showers without any partiality on the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the dark and the fair and everyone in between - just like the love of God... the love that surpasses all ups and downs in my life - the love that fills my inner being with sheer joy & delight - the love that reaches out to the deepest corners of my heart and wipes off the rarest tear drop - the abundant overflowing love of God!

It refreshes my soul! The Love of God!

Inviting all NRIGirls! RSVP by ASAP!

Dear NRIGirl: How have you been? Sorry, I got a little side tracked with different errands that it has been some time since I wrote to you last. Hope all is well with you and this finds you in the best of health and cheer as it leaves me here...

Have I told you the globe is my favorite curiosity? That's right! I even collect globes. Looking at the globe on my desk, I have been wondering lately about each one of you out there - across the whole wide world - in the mountains and valleys, in the plains and deserts, in the oceans and may be even in some caves: What are you like? What do you like? What makes you smile?

It really interests me that though we may be in huge numbers and oceans apart, we all have this unique name "NRIGirl". Won't it be fun for all of us - our whole gang - to get together and hang out for a day? Dads can watch the kids for one day - of course they can!

Feb 24, 2010

Epic Nature

Epic Nature - Spring
Poem by Rachel Israel

In Spring I hear water trickle down the stream sparkling like a crystal sea
In Spring I see the fruitful trees, healthy trees, so many bees
In Spring I sit on dew covered grass, short and long grass
In Spring I see beautiful flowers, roses like rubies and lilacs like diamonds

In Spring I look at tall snow capped mountains from a distance
In Spring I see the hills genuinely and beautifully touched with sunshine
In Spring the sky looks baby blue meeting with the bright yellow sun
In Spring the clouds look like giant, white, fluffy cotton balls

Feb 22, 2010

Borrow an egg!

Dear NRIGirl! Cheers! Hope all is well.
A while ago I listened to a radio program where someone recommended the best way to make friends is to borrow an egg. Funny as it may sound, when I look back that's exactly how our parents and grand parents and many generations before them made their friends - by borrowing an egg or a cup of sugar or two onions or some curry leaves or some coins or a hairpin or a cooking pan or a ladder or a bicycle pump or you name it!

Only recently I could put this in to practice here in the United States of America. In a recent get together with friends, as the kids sat around the kitchen table for a cookie baking session, we suddenly realized we had run out of the all-purpose-flour, the main ingredient needed for the cookie dough. It was Christmas day and so all shops were closed. As I was contemplating how not to disappoint the kids, all of a sudden I remembered the radio advice to 'borrow-an-egg'.

Once I made up my mind to do just that, the next step was to identify whom to run to. There are few NRI families in our neighborhood one or two were off on vacation and others weren't all that close. However I decided to go knocking at a good neighbor's house few blocks away, borrowing some 'all-purpose-flour'. She was extremely delighted that I thought of her and came to her. As she measured and gave me a cup or two of the flour, the level of our friendship surely went up by a measure or two...

I had taken a little gift for her children as it was Christmas day - which was a special surprise for them. I got to know her husband had just had some surgery - so it cheered her up that someone showed up unexpectedly at the door - even if to borrow something ... I was glad too that I could bring in some unexpected holiday cheer to a dear family and that the little kids around my kitchen table could now proceed with their cookie baking session as planned.

The simple act of "borrowing" brought such widespread cheer in so many of us that night. It sure made our holiday very special.

When was the last time you borrowed something or made a new friend? If it has been a while or never, I encourage you to act on it. It doesn't come easily. It takes some courage and of course some humility. Try borrowing an egg or a cup of sugar or two onions or some curry leaves or some coins or a hairpin or a cooking pan or a ladder or a bicycle pump or you name it!

You will be amazed at how many new gems you can collect for your very own crown of friends by doing this simple act. As you try, please feel free to add your experience to the comments section below, I would love to hear. Happy borrowing! And of course (it goes without saying), Happy lending too...!

Until next time,
~ NRIGirl

NRI Movies Recommended by NRIGirl

* Swades: The best NRI movie that makes me think ...
Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the issues that development throws up on a grass root level. The film uses the contrast between the highly developed world of NASA, and this world back home in India, which is at the crossroads of development. Mohan's simple quest becomes the journey that every one of us goes through in search of that metaphysical and elusive place called "home".

* Nala Damayanthi: Depicts the life of an illegal NRI in Australia
Ramji is a cook from an Indian village, who decides to go to Australia to work as a chef there in order to get the money required for his sister's marriage. Unfortunately, the cook's employer is dead by the time Ramji arrives and he soon finds himself wandering around aimlessly in the cold, cruel city of Melbourne, looking for some salvation.

* The Namesake: Unfolding of life for an NRI couple
Ashima, a young Bengali woman, accepts Ashok's marriage proposal. He's a student living abroad, so after the marriage she accompanies him to New York, where their temporary residence becomes permanent. We see her navigate and adapt to this alien land.

* Mitr - My Friend: Beautiful movie depicting the struggles of an NRI Mom
The film opens with the marriage proceedings of a South Indian arranged marriage between Lakshmi  and Prithvi. Lakshmi is a typical South Indian girl from Chidambaram; Prithvi is a software engineer working in California. After the wedding, they move to the USA where Lakshmi gradually tries to fit into her new surroundings.

 * Bend it like Beckham: A fun movie showing how an NRIGirl bends it...
A comedy about bending the rules to reach your goal, Bend It Like Beckham explores the world of women's football, from kick-abouts in the park to freekicks in the Final. Set in Hounslow, West London and Hamburg, the film follows two 18 year olds with their hearts set on a future in professional soccer.

* Flavors: Shows the life of NRI singles in the USA
There are a number of concurrent storylines in Flavors, all of which have some connection to each other. Trying to find a balance between India and America is hard for all persons involved, but they somehow manage to work everything out.  It is interesting to see how all of the pieces of the puzzles are brought together at the end of the movie.

* Acham Undu Acham Undu: Every NRI should watch this movie
Made entirely in USA, Achamundu Achamundu revolves around a couple and their young daughter. What happens when a pedophile enters their house forms the story... It is scary - can not be watched with kids. But I encourage every NRI parent to be aware of what could happen if they trust everyone coming to work at their homes.

* Amreeka: Not an Indian movie, but we can relate to it well...
Muna, a single mother in Ramallah, has applied for a visa to the US. When it comes, her son Fadi, an excellent student, convinces her they should go. After an incident at customs begins their exile badly, they join Muna's sister and family in Illinois. Muna needs a job: although she has two degrees and 15 years' experience in banking, she settles for work at White Castle.

* Spellbound: NRI Parents preparing kids for Spellingbee
Film follows 8 teens and pre-teens - at least two of them are from NRI families -as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee. It is interesting how NRI parents take it seriousely, working along with their kids to prepare for the competition.

Feb 15, 2010

Call to love...

For the NRICouples out there struggling in your marriages, few ideas to rethink your priorities and to rekindle your love. I am not a marriage expert neither am I a perfect partner nor in a perfect marriage. I am learning still and wanted to share my lessons-learnt to encourage you to learn along with me...

As we all agree marriage is not a child's play. It is a serious life-long commitment. Love is mandatory for the survival of a marriage union. In earlier generations women or in some cases men, patiently endured the love-less marriages. Though it seemed to be love-less marriages, if you look closer it was made possible because the one who endured had this tremendous unconditional love for the love-lacking-partner. This unconditional love is truly the secret for successful marriages.

Feb 14, 2010

True Love!

Dear All: Wishing every one of you TRUE LOVE! - as defined below:
* Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
* It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
* Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
* It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
* Love never fails.
* And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~ Holy Bible

Feb 11, 2010

Oct 13th 1996 G.T. Express Memories

My previous post from my journal entry brought back some memories of the Delhi trip and the GT express journey on Oct 13th 1996. To share some:

* I had just completed my Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) and had cleared a written exam for a Govt. job and was called for an in person interview at Delhi.
* I was travelling with my Mom - which was much fun. We talked, laughed, read, slept and enjoyed the journey.
* When we arrived, I felt very out of place in Delhi and was literally at a loss for word - as I didn't know Hindi and they wouldn't speak English.
* For the first time in my life, I felt like a foreigner in my own country. Hated the Tamil Nadu politicians as they had banned Hindi in Tamil Nadu. Though I had taken up private lessons for Hindi, mine was only bookish - reading knowledge. Comprehending spoken Hindi was above and beyond my skillset.
* We visited one of Amma's old student who prepared a very nice South Indian meal for us
* The interviewers asked me "Hindi malum?" I said, "Thoda, thoda" which they found to be very funny. (This has been edited to respect the elders!)
* To make matters worse, my head was so itchy (from lice infested train pillows/sheets) that I was constantly scratching my head with a pencil during the interview...
* The person at the travel reimbursement counter suggested even if I get the offer I should consider twice before accepting it as getting trasfer back to Tamil Nadu would never be possible (he was trying for more than a decade he said)
* Did some shopping in Delhi streets and got cheated many times as we didn't speak Hindi. Amma knew Hindi well, but she was a little slow in understanding the numbers (price) so we were sold at higher prices and they wouldn't let us walk away without buying... I was very scared of the merchants for the very first time.
*Amma hadn't slept much the previous night at Delhi as she did not feel safe at the hotel room where we stayed
* When we got back to the train station for the return, we bought a comb from a gypsy lady and I started cleaning my head off the lice at once. Oh! What a relief it was!
In our return journey we bought some oranges in Nagpur and to our dismay as the train moved when we opened the basket it was all rotten oranges. Not even a single good fruit! We couldn't beleive how someone could fool someone like that...
* What I love about GT express is that it is this one long train where you could walk thru the compartments from one end to another. This was my favorite passtime and I visited the cafe boogie often to grab some snacks or magazines or something.
* During one such 'walk' I saw this familiar face smiling at me. When I got closer it was Jesudin whom I knew from Sunday school. He was now a dentist and returning back from an interview as well. I was so thrilled to see him and exchanged few words. When I got back home, I shared the news with my close friend Victory who was a Doctor and suggested she marries him. Though she did not show much interest then, three years later they both got married!! They are both well established doctor/dentist in Tirunelveli now.
* There was some kind of railway strike going on so our train was delayed reaching the destination - not by an hour or two - but a whole day! - yes, 24 hours!! Can you imagine that?!
* The long delay and the extra heat through Andra Pradesh drained some cheer & energy out of us, but inspite of all that it was the best journey I remember...

Some G.T. Facts:
A great train, popularly known as the Grand Trunk (GT) Express, runs between Chennai and New Delhi. It covers a distance of 2184 kilometers or about 1360 miles in 35 hours. It is one of the oldest trains having been introduced in 1929. It has a capacity to accommodate some 1400 persons and runs daily through the main line that runs from the south to the North-between the two important metropolitan cities, Chennai and the capital of India, New Delhi.

Route Map:

Be the best of whatever you are!

Oct 13th 1996 4:17 PM - Returning from Delhi by the G.T. Express, what was I reading?! Here is what I found from my journal. This is a poem by Douglas Malloch (1877 - 1938). It was such a source of inspiration for me - I am sure it will be for you too. Read on...

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley — but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass —
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail —
Be the best of whatever you are!

Feb 9, 2010

Conversations - Between Me and My Mom

1. What's the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?
I could have given you all regular and more milk to drink. Since nothing could be done about this now, I insist that your children get enough milk to drink.
2. What was the secret of your successful marriage with Papa?
Inspite of all our quarrels and arguments, we loved each other very much.
3. In what ways do you think I'm like you? And not like you?
In caring for the siblings you are like me. By looking at what you are doing for me , I sometimes feel I could have done more for my mother. I do not remember shouting at my children so much though you may say I had my shoutings , honestly I do not remember .
4. Which one of us kids did you like the best?
Honestly, I can not say I like any one of you better than the other; if  I weigh you in a balance all of you are the same in your love, your obedience , arguments, and goodness.
5. Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?
I dont think I have any such thing. if I remember anything surely I will let you know.
6. Do you think it's easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?
I think it is harder now, since you have to look into so many things in their lives.
7. Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?
I feel I could have written down all the preachings of my father.
8. What's the best thing I can do for you right now?
I do not have any special wish... honestly.
9. Is there anything that you wish had been different between us―or that you would still like to change?
As it is the answer is 'no'. If I think about anything I will let you know.
10. When did you realize you were no longer a child?
Only in my sixties. that too I am not sure.

~  Email conversation as it happend between myself and my Mom last summer. ~

Feb 2, 2010

NRI = 'Non Resident' or 'Not Returning' Indian?

NRI - How would you define it? Is it Non Resident Indian or Not Returning Indian? I am sure only an individual NRI knows what truly defines him or her. I would like to think of me as a Non Resident Indian. I would like to say I'll be glad to return to India anytime. It is home folks! Don't you agree? Thinking deeper though, my thoughts waver...

A blogger friend writes an interesting article "Would I immigrate to US now?" (Click here to read it) As he points out it is the childhood India we long for - I long for. The days when Papa was around, when both Grandmas were alive, when Amma taught in college, when I was carefree with Delightson, Ashy, Tiny and Snowy... when we did not hesitate to eat from the street vendors, learnt to ride the broken rental bicycles, when we did not mind the heat of the day, the sweating afternoons, the frequent power failures, when we did not care for the fashionable clothes, designer handbags, matching shoes..., when snow was only a dream and aircondition was a luxury, when we only relied on hand written letters for communications with far away family, when I was lean and never felt fat, when I was full of dreams for America, when I had no clue what marriage meant, what life is all about... those are the days I want to return to - that's the India my home!
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